Kavita Meelu | Maker of Food Projects
The first visual I got of Kavita was her hanging outside a cafe which was in a double decker bus and enquiring whether I was Shantanu. I acknowledged and she came out and went on the say that she was expecting to meet an Indian! I was sorry to disappoint her that only my name was Indian, thanks to my rainbow colour loving parents back in the 80’s, and after a bit of talking I think she accepted the fact.
Kavita runs all sorts of incredible food projects in Berlin and she has the knowledge of an owl when it comes to the city. Wise knowledge. The Pixel Trade was photographing one of her projects called Mother’s Mother, a series of popup dinners that celebrate recipes from mothers and mother’s mothers. Yes it was food haven from the moment the trade started.
Interview with Kavita
What would you say was the biggest risk you’ve taken in your life?
Risk & I have a strange relationship. Being a child of 1st generation immigrants when it comes down to risk I lived in a pretty contradictory world. They taught me to be risk averse, that hard work & resilience will get me further than gambling. But I guess deciding to uproot your life in the 70's in search of opportunities on a foreign land thousands of miles away, with all of 5 pounds to get you started - is pretty risky so they haven't done well at teaching by example!
There isn't really 1 specific risk I have taken that is bigger than others. What I took from my parents basically is that its only worth taking risk when you need to generate a fundamental change in your life. So I've done this every few years and I'm happy to say each time it's paid off temporarily - contentment with the outcome usually lasted around 2 years & then it's time for the next big risk... The last big risk I took was signing a lease for a shop just after leaving my job without having a concept or idea of what to do with the space.
When did you realise food was what you wanted to specialise in?
Growing up, food was a tool I used to connect myself to my roots, when I left home i used food to understand and immerse myself in other cultures. Food and food culture always took centre stage in my life.
However turning this into a profession only started to make sense in 2005, I had finished my degree, started a career in politics & 1 year after finding my dream post with my favourite politician - I left, disillusioned & bored of all the bullshit. I was back applying for new grad schemes - but quickly needed to make a bit of cash - A new bakery had opened across my street - a cupcake bakery! I visited daily for my fix, It quickly became my temple of joy. I began a part time job there, in customer service. The amazing thing about this place was the happiness it filled in people, and you could get all this happiness as well as tantalise all your senses, just for 1.50! The experience for customers was so rich and memorable & didn't leave them bankrupt.
I decided then that I want to create these environments for people. However it took me another 5 years (in advertising etc) before I actually began to do this.
What is the most adventurous food you’ve eaten?
Hanoi street grill - hundreds of sticks of meaty looking things all different all grilled to perfection - however - we were hungry & we didn't speak the language & the grill mama had no time to translate for us. So it turns out in and amongst our blind selection was a bit of chicken balls & dog meat.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
It would have to be hongkong or Bangkok - I love huge sprawling cities with winding streets & rich food culture to discover on every corner.
If you could teach a group of people one thing, what would it be?
I'm always amazed at how scared many people are of entertaining friends and love ones! So I guess I would offer a workshop on how to host a stress free dinner party for 10 or more people.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
Beach, The Soundtrack